We only use your email address to send you the newsletter and to see how many people are opening our emails. A full privacy policy can be viewed here. You can change your mind at any time and update your preferences or unsubscribe.

Adolescent economic empowerment in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Adolescent girl working at a brick factory in Mohammadpur, Dhaka. Photo: Nathalie Bertrams/GAGE


Sahida Khondaker
Laura Camfield
Maheen Sultan
Sabina Faiz Rashid
Jennifer Muz

Publication type:
Policy briefs and policy notes
Date: July 2019

Although the Bangladeshi Labour Act 2006 prohibits people younger than 14 years from working and limits those aged between 14 and 18 from working in hazardous jobs, these activities are prevalent. In particular, rates of female child labour were found to be high in Dhaka, at 4.8%, more than twice as high as the rates in any other division.

Income generating opportunities in urban centres, such as Dhaka, are highly gendered: boys work in the services sector on average 50 hours weekly and earn 50% more than girls, girls work in garment factories an average of 40 hours weekly.

This brief explores the economic aspirations of adolescents in slums around Dhaka, what kinds of skills or training they are receiving, including numeracy and literacy, whether they have access to resource endowments, savings and credit, and how they access these.

In Dhaka, baseline data collection entailed quantitative interviews with 780 adolescent girls and boys and more in-depth qualitative research involving 36 adolescents and their families and communities.

We also look at whether any social protection provisioning exists and whether the sort of work adolescents are doing can be classified as ‘decent work’ under International Labour Organization guidelines.

Suggested citation

Khondaker, S., Camfield, L., Sultan, M., Rashid, S. F. and Muz, J. (2019) Adolescent economic empowerment in Dhaka. Policy Note. London: Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence.

Related publications